JFSGNH Welcomes New Mental Health Director and Aging Adult Coordinator

Alissa Wurtzel, LCSW, joins Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven as the new Clinical Mental Health Director for both the Child and Adult Outpatient clinics.  She brings with her an eclectic skill set of evidence-based treatment modalities and experience with diverse populations.  Serving the mental health and behavioral needs of Connecticut residents for the past 20 years, Alissa is most looking forward to weaving together the past, current, and future needs of the JFS community.

Experienced with individual, family, and group therapy, Alissa has worked with clients as young as 4 and as old as 107.  Alissa feels her strength is in teaching people about the impact that stressors and stimuli have on us as human beings, and she encourages individuals and groups to use their intuition and uniqueness to identify solutions.

Before joining JFS, Alissa’s specialty areas were in trauma informed care, EMDR, medical social work, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), and co-occurring disorders.  Alissa is grateful for previous experiences with community health clinics, children and families using animal assisted therapy, the Connecticut Army National Guard, and hospice patients and their families.  She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Connecticut.  Alissa can be reached at 203-389-5599, ext. 117 or awirtzel@jfsnh.org

Elanit Kayne Linder, LMSW, recently joined JFS as the Aging Adult and Community Outreach Coordinator. “I’m invigorated to be joining JFS at a time when the geriatric program is expanding as are the geriatric needs of our community. I look forward to rolling out the JFS Care Navigators Care Management Program,” Linder expressed.   In her new position, Elanit will lead this comprehensive program, which provides needs and psychosocial assessments, care planning, advocacy, linkage to community resources, weekly check –in calls and collaboration with family members. 

Elanit earned her Bachelor’s degree at TISCH School of the Arts at New York University and her Master’s Degree at Columbia University School of Social Work. Elanit’s prior older adult career experience includes assisted living memory care director, director of recreation, and clinical community liaison in various facilities.

Elainit is committed to program development that empowers individuals and communities to their best quality of life in their own vision. She is dedicated to intergenerational programming, cultivating and developing long-term partnerships while supporting clients and families.  Elanit can be reached at 203-389-5599, ext. 114 or elinder@jfsnh.org.

JFS Names Brian Prousky Interim CEO

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Brian Prousky as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Prousky will use his expertise to guide the agency through this transition of leadership and post pandemic renewal.

Most recently, Brian was the Executive Director of Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto. In this role, he was instrumental in developing programs and partnerships that improved the lives of vulnerable and at-risk individuals and families. Brian passionately represented the agency, its service users and the broader community on various local, national and international forums, including on the Board of Directors of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. He solidified the agency’s financial position while expanding programing to serve emerging needs. This included reimagining and rebuilding the agency’s poverty reduction program so that it contained a constellation of holistic supports built around the Social Determinants of Health, achieving quality outcomes for those who, quite sadly, experienced all the deleterious impacts of poverty.

In 2020, the agency was recognized internationally with a best practice award for its service delivery in this area. Most notably, Brian built an organizational culture that was transparent and collaborative – one that was open to renewal, re-imagination, agility, adaptability, all of which served the agency well during a time of great uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Prior to leading Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto, Brian was the Director of Services at the Durham Children’s Aid Society and York Region Children’s Aid Society, two large child welfare agencies.

Brian was a founding member of the Durham Region Intimate-Partner Violence Empowerment Network (DRIVEN), a collaborative, collocated program (involving seven on-site partner agencies) serving women and children who have experienced domestic violence.

Brian was also a founding member of the Regional Adoption Program for the Children’s Aid Societies of Durham, Kawartha Haliburton and Highland Shores. From 1999-2015, Brian delivered province-wide training to child protection managers in the areas of Risk Assessment, Differential Response, Performance Management and Transfer of Learning. Brian has a particular interest in organizational change management, both from a strategic and cultural perspective.

Throughout his career, he has been instrumental in leading change management processes where staffing and financial resources have been redeployed to increase sustainability and enhance service delivery. 

Brian may be reached at bprousky@jfsnh.org.

JFS Welcomes 3 New Employees!

Chief Executive Officer Amy Rashba, LCSW is excited to announce that Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven has welcomed several new staff members.  Andrea Joseph, LCSW, Hannah Leiterman, LCSW, and Maria Gaudet, MSW all bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the agency.

JFS welcomes New Haven native Andrea Joseph, LCSW as the Coordinator for Aging Adult Services. Andrea has over 20 years of experience in behavioral health, most recently focusing on the aging population.  Andrea earned her Master’s in Social Work from The University of Connecticut.  She began her career as a psychiatric social worker at Connecticut Mental Health Center of West Haven where she worked for ten years.  After raising her two daughters, she returned to the field in 2009 providing therapy to older adults.  She was recently employed at Masonicare’s Behavioral Health Clinic as well as other consulting agencies for nursing homes and assisted living environments.  Andrea also has strong ties to the New Haven Jewish community.  She attended Hebrew Day School, was a member of The Westville Synagogue and her parents were the owners of Gutkin Kosher Caterers.  Andrea is excited to “be back home” and is grateful to have the opportunity to expand the Aging Adult Services at JFS.

Hannah Leiterman, LCSW joins the JFS staff as the Mental Health Clinical Director.  Hannah earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago. Non-profit work has always been important to her, as she spent two years in Armenia as a member of the Peace Corps.  Hannah moved to New Haven in 2006 where she completed post-graduate fellowships at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and the West Haven Veteran’s Hospital (VA). She went on to work in psychiatric emergency services at Yale, and outpatient psychiatry at the VA.  Prior to joining JFS, Hannah worked at St. Raphael’s in the emergency and maternity departments.  Hannah is excited to build the mental health program, having seen firsthand in the emergency rooms the need for more social support in our community.

Maria Gaudet, MSW joins the JFS team as the Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) Recruiter. Maria earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She brings a wealth of experience as she previously worked at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and understands the issues facing children involved in the foster care system. Maria hopes to bring an awareness to these issues and is excited about forming new community connections as she recruits more foster parents.

JFS Welcomes 5 New Board Members!

At the Annual Meeting in June, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven welcomed five new members to its Board of Directors. Renee Drell, Jill Nathanson, Marni Smith Katz, Melanie Rausch, and Hedda Rubenstein bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the agency. JFS looks forward to having their knowledge, expertise and positive outlook as part of the family.

 

Renee Drell has spent her entire professional career in the not for profit sector. For the recent 10 years she was the Executive Director for HomeSharing, a social service agency that prevents homelessness by providing shared affordable housing to those seeking affordable housing and also to those who want to share their homes for additional income so that they can remain living in their home. She holds an MSW and a CSW. Her professional experience in Fund Raising, Event Planning, Board and Committee Development, Financial Management, and Advertising/Promotion will be very beneficial to JFS as a whole.

 

Jill Nathanson, a Hamden native, comes to JFS with knowledge of environmental issues. She is currently a member of the Hamden Tree Commission and Buy Green Realty Network, and is well-versed in energy efficiency and sustainable development. Jill graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Clinical Psychology and has experience as a foster care case worker. Her further education with the Professional Business Institute in Hamden adds to her versatility and JFS is already seeing Jill’s dedication as she volunteered this summer at the Food Pantry assisting clients.

 

Marni Smith Katz, a Woodbridge resident, comes to JFS as a seasoned non-profit board member who strives to give back to the community.  Her experience includes six years on the executive board of Temple Beth Sholom and the Development Committee of Camp Ramah. Marni is currently the Manager of Business at Quick Center of the Arts in Fairfield and has experience as Development Director at Westport Arts Center and Ezra Academy. Marni has a great understanding of the nature of non-profits and brings a wealth of experience to our board.

 

Melanie Rausch is originally from Maine and has been practicing law in Hartford, Connecticut since 2006. She specializes in Non-Profit Law and Affordable Housing Development along with other specialties. She has served on the CT Senate Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, on other local non-profit boards and been active in various Jewish organizations including the Jewish Federation of New Haven. Melanie is well-versed in the logistics of non-profit work and the agency is excited to have her talent on the board.

 

Hedda Rubenstein of Branford is a retired human resources executive, who has served in positions for corporations such as Otis Elevator, United Technologies, and Aetna.  She comes to JFS with 15 years of prior board experience at the Neighborhood Music School, and previously served as their president. As a musician with a bright personality, Hedda is very involved in our local community, performing regularly with the Klemzer Ensemble, the Nu Haven Kapelye, and Congregation Mishkan Israel.

 

JFS is very grateful to all five board members and welcomes them to the JFS family.